To enable your best calligraphy or illustration work, you’ll need a reliable set of pens. Dip pens, which draw ink when dunked into an inkwell and deposit pigment as you write, are a fantastic alternative or complement to fountain pens and brushes. With lots of nibs to choose from, dip pens offer a great level of flexibility and therefore more control over your final designs or decorative writing. Depending on their size, shape, and degree of rigidness, nibs can be used to combine thick and thin upstrokes and downstrokes—whereas fountain pens maintain a consistent line width with every stroke. Breathe a little more life into your pen work with our recommendations below.
1. Brause Calligraphy Writing Nibs Variety Set
The answers to all your needs for elegant writing can be found in the German-made Brause calligraphy set. It comes with flexible and near-rigid writing nibs as well as a natural wooden nib holder so you can create six different pens for a wide variety of strokes. Made from cold rolled steel, the nibs are durable to tolerate long-term use, and each is pressed to form a precise point for satisfyingly smooth writing. They also respond beautifully to pressure and hold an impressive amount of ink so you can spend less time dipping and more time drafting.
2. Manuscript Pen Leonardt Copperplate and Shadow Set
If you want to practice Copperplate script—the sophisticated, centuries-old style of calligraphy originally produced by master engravers—consider this set of nibs from Leonardt, which has been making dip pens since the 19th century. Included are five wide-ranging nibs to encourage you to get creative, from the flat Crown nib to the large, rounded Steno nib that can create a range of strokes and weights. Each has a pleasing amount of flexibility to accommodate dramatic, fluid flourishes; you also get a slick, tapered holder in dark wood.
3. Speedball Calligraphy No. 5 Artists Pen Set
Looking for an inexpensive way to get started with dip pens? Go with Speedball’s set, which comes with nine nibs (B style, C style, and pen points) for a variety of illustration and calligraphy styles. They are less flexible than their artist-grade counterparts and generally require more pressure, but newcomers might find that this is helpful when just starting out, as this makes the pens more forgiving. Also included are two nib holders—made of plastic, but easy to assemble and maintain.
4. AXEARTE Glass Dip Pen Set
Glass dip pens are an eye-catching alternative to typical metal nibs. Made entirely of glass, these writing implements don’t have a reservoir and instead catch ink in swirling grooves near their tips. Beautiful to look at, they’re easy to wash clean and are therefore a great option if you like to work with different inks. This option comes with a pair of pens in different designs, 14 bottles of shimmery ink (0.25 ounce each), and a rest to prop up your pen when not in use. The glass pens are nicely balanced, hold a lot of ink, and feature smooth points for continuous, non-scratchy writing.
5. Hethrone Calligraphy Pen Set
If you want even more nibs to experiment with, this might be the best set for you. In addition to one sturdy pen holder, you get 11 metal nibs in different shapes. Each writes cleanly, picks up a good amount of ink, and deposits color without blobbing on the paper. You also get a 15-milliliter bottle of opaque black ink so you can begin writing at once.